What makes you a Christian? If we were to ask around, I believe we would get different answers from different people.
Some would say to be a Christian, you have to go to church. Others would describe the Christian life as following rules and living up to certain standards.
And perhaps others would be certain they are good Christians because they have been in church their whole lives. It’s a family tradition.
Although some of these practices are characteristics of a Christian, they are not what makes you a Christian.
Being a real Christian is about having a relationship with God.
It’s about living your life in a way that reflects the character of Christ. Being a Christian is something we become through the mercy of God’s redeeming power.
In fact, we cannot do anything to become a Christian but to accept the free gift of God’s love.
But once we become a Child of God, how do we become a better Christian?
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What Makes You a Christian
The word of God is the best place to start for understanding what a true Christian is.
The word Christian is found only three times in the Bible.
The first time is Acts 11:26. Those who continued to follow Christ were called Christians because their speech and actions reflected His teachings and His ways.
The first Christian believers were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial death, and His miraculous resurrection! And that’s exactly what Roman 10:9 describes as a Christian.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (ESV)
Declare and believe: that’s what makes you a Christian. It’s known as the Sinner’s Prayer.
We declare that Christ is our Lord and our Savior and believe that God miraculously raised Him back to life after taking away our reproach. We do nothing; God does everything.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn't the character trait of being a good person or doing good deeds that makes you a Christian.
What makes you a real Christian is accepting the free gift of salvation offered by the Father.
What is the Benefit of Being a Christian
Maybe you’re not a Christian. And you are asking yourself, why should I be a Christian? Maybe there’s a little tug on your heart that makes you wonder if you are missing out on something.
There are many benefits of being a Christian. But the one true benefit of the Christian faith is the Good News of eternal life. Life is a gift from God, and we only have a few short years here on earth to live it.
However, our souls are eternal; if you are a Christian, your soul will live forever in the presence of God.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
I mean, that’s enough, right? But there are so many other benefits of Christianity:
- We have a divine connection with our Creator.
- We belong to a loving community.
- We have a hope that surpasses all understanding.
- We are loved, accepted, and cherished by God.
- We find inner peace knowing we are forgiven.
- We have the help of the Holy Spirit to live holy.
How to Be a Better Christian
As I mentioned,the act of accepting Jesus into your heart makes you a Christian. But the Christian life is more than just accepting a title.
Think about your chosen career path. Once you get your graduation certificate or license, you still continue to learn and get better in your field. You are always learning and finding ways to be better at your trade or craft.
It's the same way with being a Christian. You should always strive to be better at it and better and living out the qualities that Jesus modeled for us.
It is important to understand that being a better Christian isn't about being better than other fellow believers.
This act of “being better” is more of a personal goal or challenge. It is about striving to do things that bring you closer to God and stronger in your faith.
To be effective Christians, we must always strive to be the best version of the person God created us to be.
We allow the Spirit to work in our hearts and minds to make us more like Christ.
However, God has given you free will, so it’s up to you to allow the Holy Spirit to change your heart.
So, we may not make the changes on the inside, but there are ways we can prepare on the outside. Here are eight ways that will be beneficial to becoming a better Christian.
Read the Bible
The first step towards growing stronger in your faith and being a better Christian is Bible study.
Regularly study and meditate on God's word to grow in understanding.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
By reading the Bible, we learn who God is and why we should obey Him, who Christ is and why we should follow Him, and who the Holy Spirit is and why we should allow Him to lead us.
If you don’t know where to start, begin reading through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Or find a reading plan that will encourage you to be consistent with your reading.
Develop Your Prayer Life
God communicates to us through His Word, but we communicate to God through prayer.
Prayer is not simply saying some prepared words that make us feel good. Prayer is literally having the ear of God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
Through prayer, we communicate our praises, gratitude, sorrows, and difficulties of life to the Creator of the Universe.
Prayer is powerful. Through prayer, our minds and hearts stay obedient to the Lord.
Develop a consistent prayer life to communicate with God.
Attend Church Regularly
Attending church regularly should be a regular aspect of your life.
The local church offers so many opportunties for spiritual growth and fellowship with others.
You can't get better by yourself! You need a community of other believers to help you
There’s a common phrase that has been true through the ages: you become who you hang around with.
You need to hang around with better Christians to be a better Christian.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
When the early church began, they continually met in each other's homes to discuss Jesus’ teachings. They shared their food and their money to help each other out.
They would teach, sing, pray, and encourage each other with the truths Jesus shared.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that as Christians, we need to continue to keep that community viable.
We need to be meeting with like-minded people and talking about God’s greatness, Jesus’ teachings, and encouraging each other to be better…to be holy.
Cultivate a Servant's Heart
Aside from simply making you a better person, serving others is an important part of emulation the qualities of Jesus.
Jesus is all about serving. He is the Son of God. He is God. But He lowered Himself to become human so He could redeem us back to the Father.
Jesus served others. He washed the disciples' feet, healed the sick, taught continuously, and poured out all His strength doing the Father’s will.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (ESV)
We are called to serve others and do so with a joyful heart. We should never do it out of obligation because that defeats the point.
Find ways to serve and help others in your daily life and cultivate a servant's heart.
Jesus willingly gave of Himself (Hebrews 12:2), and we should too. God loves a cheerful giver and doer. So, if you can’t have a good attitude about serving others, pray about it until you do. Everything we do is for our service to God.
Practice forgiveness as Christ forgave you.
Many Christians have a difficult time with this one. Our human nature makes it difficult to forgive a close friend or family members who have hurt us or intentionally wronged us.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
Again, we use Jesus as our example. Jesus forgave the very ones who were standing at the foot of the cross and mocking Him. He was sinless, yet He suffered a horrendous death sentence.
He was God, yet He allowed mere men to beat Him and abuse Him. All the time while He was submitting to the Father’s will.
You may have suffered at the hand of another, but no matter what you’ve been through, Jesus has been through more.
No matter how you’ve been treated, Jesus was treated worse. And He chose to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice.
Along with forgiveness, comes loving others.
Love others unconditionally as a reflection of God's love.
We’ve already mentioned the depth of God’s love. He loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son for our redemption (John 3:16). No matter how much we love, God has loved us more and expects us to reflect His love.
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)
As Christians, we should continually strive to love others the way God loves them.
1 John 4:8 says that God IS love. So when we show love to others, we are most like God.
Jesus said the two great commandments (or laws) are to love God and love others as much as we love ourselves.
Learn to Trust God
Do you fully trust that God has you covered in the many obstacles of everyday life?
Develop unwavering trust in God's plan for you and the world.
As Christians, we must learn to trust that God has everything under control – even when we can't possbily see a good outcome.
God's got us covered!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Over time, when we see His hand in our circumstances, it allows our faith to grow even stronger.
Trust that God has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). He chose you for His own. He made you a co-heir with Christ.
Why wouldn’t He want the best for you? He does everything in our lives for our good and His glory. Trust Him.
Share Your Testimony
Sharing your personal testimony can actually help you in being a better Christian!
God asks three things of believers: to love Him, to love others, and to share the gospel.
Gospel-sharing isn't just about giving a sermon. The best way to share the gospel is through a personal story of how God transformed your life.
When you can share it openly and without shame, it means you have truly grown in your faith and your relationship with God.
Tell others how Jesus has changed your life.
We weren’t there to witness Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. But we do have our own transforming story to tell.
And as Jesus commanded His disciples to go and tell the story, He is telling us also. We must share our stories so others will hear the truth of God’s amazing grace.
Be a Better Christian Every Day
Christian living is a continual process of improving our spiritual lives and accepting God's grace and offering grace to others.
Being a better Christian should be a way of life and not something you every fully achieve.
There isn't going to be a day where you become the “best Christian” because you will always need God's help to be better in some area of your life.
These principles can help guide your path, and the Holy Spirit will be there every step of the way.
I’d like to encourage you as you continue on this life-long journey of Christendom by saying it is not a race, so be kind to yourself when you feel like you aren’t changing fast enough.
It’s the Lord’s doing to make the changes, we are just allowing Him the freedom to do it.